Augustin on John 13
14 (Jn 3,29-36.
1. This lesson from the holy Gospel shows us the excellency of our Lord Jesus Christ’s divinity, and the humility of the man who earned the title of the Bridegroom’s friend; that we may distinguish between the man who is man, and the Man who is God. For the Man who is God is our Lord Jesus Christ, God before all ages, Man in the age of our world: God of the Father, man of the Virgin, yet one and the same Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Son of God, God and man. But John, a man of distinguished grace, was sent before Him, a man enlightened by Him who is the Light. For of Jn it is said, “He was not the Light, but that he should bear witness of the Light.” He may himself be called a light indeed, and rightly so; but an enlightened, not an enlightening light. The light that enlightens, and that which is enlightened, are different things: for even our eyes are called lights (lumina), and yet when we open them in the dark, they do not see. But the light that enlightens is a light both from itself and for itself, and does not need another light for its shining; but all the rest need it, that they may shine.
2. Accordingly Jn confessed Him: as you have heard that when Jesus was making many disciples, and they reported to Jn as if to excite him to jealousy,-for they told the matter as if moved by envy, “Lo, he is making more disciples than thou,”-Jn confessed what he was, and thereby merited to belong to Him, because he dared not affirm himself to be that which Jesus is. Now this is what Jn said: “A man cannot receive anything, except it be given him from heaven.” Therefore Christ gives, man receives. “Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom; but the friend of the Bridegroom, who standeth and heareth Him, rejoiceth greatly because of the Bridegroom’s voice.” Not of himself did he give himself joy. He that will have joy of himself shall be sad; but he that will have his joy of God will ever rejoice, because God is everlasting. Dost thou desire to have everlasting joy? Cleave to Him who is everlasting. Such an one Jn declared himself to be. “Because of the Bridegroom’s voice, the friend of the Bridegroom rejoiceth,” not because of his own voice, and “standeth and heareth.” Therefore, if he falls, he heareth Him not: for of a certain one who fell it is said, “And he stood not in the truth;” this is said of the devil. It behoves the Bridegroom’s friend, then, “to stand and to hear.” What is it to stand? It is to abide in His grace, which he received. And he hears a voice at which he rejoices. Such was John: he knew whereof he rejoiced; he did not arrogate to himself to be what he was not; he knew himself as one enlightened, not the enlightener. “But that was the true Light,” saith the evangelist, “that lighteneth every man coming into this world.” If “every man,” then also Jn himself; for he too is of men. Moreover, although none hath arisen among them that are born of women greater than John, yet he was himself one of those that are born of women. Is he to be compared with Him who, because He willed it, was born by a singular and extraordinary birth? For both generations of the Lord are unexampled, both the divine and the human: by the divine He has no mother; by the human, no father. Therefore Jn was but one of the rest: of greater grace, however, so that of those born of women none arose greater than he; so great a testimony he gave to our Lord Jesus Christ as to call Him the Bridegroom, and himself the Bridegroom’s friend, not worthy however to loose the latchet of the Bridegroom’s shoe. You have already heard much on this point, beloved: let us look to what follows; for it is somewhat hard to understand. But as Jn himself says, that “no man can receive anything, except it be given him from heaven,” whatever we shall not have understood, let us ask Him who gives from heaven: for we are men, and cannot receive anything, except He, whois not man, give it us.
3. Now this is what follows: and Jn says, “This my joy therefore is fulfilled.” What is his joy? To rejoice at the Bridegroom’s voice. It is fulfilled in me, I bare my grace; more I do not assume to myself, lest also I lose what I have received. What is this joy? “With joy rejoiceth for the Bridegroom’s voice.” A man may understand, then, that he ought not to rejoice of his own wisdom, but of the wisdom which he has received from God. Let him ask nothing more, and he loses not what he found. For many, in that they affirmed themselves to be wise, became fools. The apostle convicts them, and says of them, “Because that which is known of God is manifest to them; for God has showed it unto them.” Hear ye what he says of certain unthankful, ungodly men: “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are seen, being understood by the things that are made, His eternal power likewise, and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” Why without excuse? “Because, knowing God” (he said not, “because they knew Him not “), “they glorified Him not as God, nor were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened: professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”1 If they had known God, they had known at the same time that God, and none other, had made them wise; and they would not then attribute to themselves that which they did not have from themselves, but to Him from whom they had received it. But by their unthankfulness they became fools. Therefore, what God gave freely, He took from the unthankful. Jn would not be this; he would be thankful: he confessed to have received, and declared that he rejoiced for the Bridegroom’s voice, saying, “Therefore this my joy is fulfilled.”
4. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” What is this? He must be exalted, but I must be humbled. How is Jesus to increase? How is God to increase? The perfect does not increase. God neither increases nor decreases. For if He increases, He is not perfect; if He decreases, he is not God. And how can Jesus increase, being God? If to man’s estate, since He deigned to be man and was a child; and, though the Word of God, lay an infant in a manger; and, though His mother’s Creator, yet sucked the milk of infancy of her: then Jesus having grown in age of the flesh, that perhaps is the reason why it is said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” But why in this? As regards the flesh, Jn and Jesus were of the same age, there being six months between them: they had grown up together; and if our Lord Jesus Christ had willed to be here longer before His death, and that Jn should be here with Him, then, as they had grown up together, so would they have grown old together: in what way, then, “He must increase but I must decrease”? Above all, our Lord Jesus Christ being now thirty years old, does a man who is already thirty years old still grow? From that same age, men begin to go downward, and to decline to graver age, thence to old age. Again, even had they both been lads, he would not have said. “He must increase,” but, We must increase together. But now each is thirty years of age. The interval of six months makes no difference in age; the difference is discovered by reading rather than by the look of the persons.
5. What means, then, “He must increase, but I must decrease”? This is a great mystery! Before the Lord Jesus came, men were glorying of themselves; He came a man, to lessen man’s glory, and to increase the glory of God. Now He came without sin, and found all men in sin. If thus He came to put away sin, God may freely give, man may confess. For man’s confession is man’s lowliness: God’s pity is God’s loftiness. Therefore, since He came to forgive man his sins, let man acknowledge his own lowliness and let God show His pity. “He must increase, but I must decrease:” that is, He must give, but I must receive; He must be glorified, but I must confess. Let man know his own condition, and confess to God; and hear the apostle as he says to a proud, elated man, bent on extolling himself: “What hast thou that thou didst not receive? And if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou didst not receive it?”2 Then let man understand that he has received; and when he would call that his own which is not his, let him decrease: for it is good for him that God be glorified in him. Let him decrease in himself, that he may be increased in God. These testimonies and this truth, Christ and Jn signified by their deaths. For Jn was lessened by the Head: Christ was exalted on the cross; so that even there it appeared what this is, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Again, Christ was born when the days were just beginning to lengthen; Jn was born when they began to shorten. Thus their very creation and deaths testify to the words of John, when he says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” May the glory of God then increase in us, and our own glory decrease, that even ours may increase in God! For this is what the apostle says, this is what Holy Scripture says: “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”3 Wilt thou glory in thyself? Thou wilt grow; but grow worse in thy evil. For whoso grows worse is justly decreased. Let God, then, who is ever perfect, grow, and grow in thee. For the more thou understandest God, and apprehendest Him, He seems to be growing in thee; but in Himself He grows not, being ever perfect. Thou didst understand a little yesterday; thou understandest more to-day, wilt understand much more to-morrow: the very light of God increases in thee: as if thus God increases, who remains ever perfect. It is as if one’s eyes were being cured of former blindness, and he began to see a little glimmer of light, and the next day he saw more, and the third day still more: to him the light would seem to grow; yet the light is perfect, whether he see it or not. Thus it is also with the inner man: he makes progress indeed in God, and God seems to be increasing in him; yet man himself is decreasing, that he may fall from his own glory, and rise into the glory of God.
6. What we have just heard, appears now distinctly and clearly. “He that cometh from above, is above all.” See what he says of Christ. What of himself? “He that is of the earth, is of earth, and speaketh of the earth. He that cometh from above is above all”-this is Christ; and “he that is of the earth, is of earth, and speaketh of the earth “-this is John. And is this the whole: Jn is of the earth, and speaks of the earth? Is the whole testimony that he bears of Christ a speaking of the earth? Are they not voices of God that are heard from John, when he bears witness of Christ? Then how does he speak of the earth? He said this of man. So far as relates to man in himself, he is of earth, and speaks of the earth; and when he speaks some divine things, he is enlightened by God. For, were he not enlightened, he would be earth speaking of earth. God’s grace is apart by itself, the nature of man apart by itself. Do but examine the nature of man: man is born and grows, he learns the customs of men. What does he know but earth, of earth? He speaks the things of men, knows the things of men, minds the things of men; carnal, he judges carnally, conjectures carnally: lo! it is man all over. Let the grace of God come, and enlighten his darkness, as it saith, “Thou wilt lighten my candle, O Lord; my God, enlighten my darkness;”4 let it take the mind of man, and turn it to its own light; immediately he begins to say, as the apostle says, “Yet not I, but the grace of God that is with me;”5 and, “Now I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”6 That is to say, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Thus John: as regards John, he is of the earth, and speaks of the earth; whatever that is divine thou hast heard from John, is of Him that enlightens, not of him that receives.
7. “He that cometh from heaven is above all; and what He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth: and no man receiveth His testimony.” Cometh from heaven, is above all, our Lord Jesus Christ; of whom it was said above, “No man hath ascended into heaven, but He that came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.” And He is above all; “and what He hath seen and heard, that He speaks.” Moreover, He hath a Fathers being Himself the Son of God; He hath a Father, and He also hears of the Father. And what is that which He hears of the Father? Who can unfold this? When can my tongue, when can my heart be sufficient, either the heart to understand, or the tongue to utter, what that is which the Son hath heard from the Father? May it be the Son has heard the Word of the Father? Nay, the Son is the Word of the Father. You see how all human effort is here wearied out; you see how all guessing of our heart, all straining of our darkened mind, here fails. I hear the Scripture saying that the Son speaks that which He heareth from the Father; and again, I hear the Scripture saying that the Son is Himself the Word of the Father: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The words that we speak are fleeting and transient: as soon as thy word has sounded from thy mouth, it passeth away; it makes its noise, and passes away into silence. Canst thou follow thy sound, and hold it to make it stand? Thy thought, however, remains, and of that thought that remains thou utterest many words that pass away. What say we, brethren? When God spake, did He give out a voice, or sounds, or syllables? If He did, in what tongue spake He? In Hebrew, or in Greek, or in Latin? Tongues are necessary where there is a distinction of nations. But there none can say that God spake in this tongue, or in that. Observe thy own heart. When thou conceivest a word which thou mayest utter,-For I will say, if I can, what we maynote in ourselves, not whereby we may comprehend that,-well, when thou conceivest a word to utter, thou meanest to utter a thing, and the very conception of the thing is already a word in thy heart: it has not vet come forth, but it is already born in the heart, and is waiting to come forth. But thou considerest the person to whom it is to come forth, with whom thou art to speak: if he is a Latin, thou seekest a Latin expression; if a Greek, thou thinkest of Greek words; if a Punic, thou considerest whether thou knowest the Punic language: for the diversity of hearers thou hast recourse to divers tongues to utter the word conceived; but the conception itself was bound by no tongue in particular. Whilst therefore God, when speaking, required not a language, nor took up any kind of speech, how was He heard by the Son, seeing that God’s speaking is the Son Himself? As, in fact, thou hast in thy heart the word that thou speakest, and as it is with thee, and is none other than the spiritual conception itself (for just as thy soul is spirit, so also the word which thou hast conceived is spirit; for it has not yet received sound to be divided by syllables, but remains in the conception of thy heart, and in the mirror of the mind); so God gave out His Word, that is, begat the Son. And thou, indeed, begettest the word even in thy heart according to time; God without time begat the Son by whom He created all times. Whilst, therefore, the Son is the Word of God, and the Son spoke to us not His own word, but the word of the Father, He willed to speak Himself to us when He was speaking the word of the Father. This it is that Jn said, as was fit and necessary; and we have expounded according to our ability. He whose heart has not yet attained to a proper perception of so great a matter, has whither to turn himself, has where to knock, has from whom to ask, from whom to seek, of whom to receive.
8. “He that cometh from heaven is above all; and what He hath seen and heard, that testifieth He; and His testimony no man receiveth.” If no man, to what purpose came He? He means, no man of a certain class. There are some people prepared for the wrath of God, to be damned with the devil; of these, none receiveth the testimony of Christ. For if none at all, not any man, received, what could these words mean, “But he that received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true”? Not certainly, then, no man, if thou sayest thyself, “He that received His testimony has set to his seal that God is true.” Perhaps John, on being questioned, would answer and say, I know what I have said, in saying no man. There are, in fact, people born to God’s wrath, and thereunto foreknown. For God knows who they are that will and that will not believe; He knows who they are that shall persevere in that in which they have believed, and who that shall fall away; and all that shall be for eternal life are numbered by God; and He knows already the people set apart. And if He knows this, and has given to the prophets by His Spirit to know it, He gave this also to John. Now Jn was observing, not with his eye,-for as regards himself he is earth, and speaketh of earth,-but with that grace of the Spirit which he received of God, he saw a certain people, ungodly, unbelieving. Contemplating that people in its unbelief, he says, “His testimony, who came from heaven, no man receiveth.” No man of whom? Of them who shall be on the left hand, of them to whom it shall be said, “Go into the everlasting fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels.” Who are they that do receive it? They who shall be at the right hand, they to whom it shall be said, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom which is prepared for you from the beginning of the world.” He observes, then, in the Spirit a dividing, but in the human race a mingling together; and that which is not yet separated locally, he separated in the understanding, in the view of the heart; and he saw two peoples, one of believers, one of unbelievers. Fixing his thought on the unbelievers, he says, “He that cometh from heaven is above all; and what He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth and no man receiveth His testimony.” He then turned his thought from the left hand, and looked at the right, and proceeded to say, “He that received His testimony has set to his seal that God is true.” What means “has set to his seal that God is true,” if it be not that man is a liar, and God is true? For no human being can speak any truth, unless he be enlightened by Him who cannot lie. God, then, is true; but Christ is God. Wouldest thou prove this? Receive His testimony and thou findest it. For “he that hath received His testimony has set to his seal that God is true.” Who is true? The same who came from heaven, and is above all, is God, and true. But if thou dost not yet understand Him to be God, thou hast not yet received His testimony: receive it, and thou puttest thy seal to it; confidently thou understandest, definitely thou acknowledgest, that God is true.
9. “For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God.” Himself is the true God, and God sent Him: God sent God. Join both, one God, true God sent by God. Ask concerning them singly, He is God; ask concerning them both, they are God. Not individually God, and both Gods; but each individual God, and both God. For so great is the charity of the Holy Spirit-there, so great the peace of unity, that when thou questionest about them individually, the answer to thee is, God; when thou askest concerning the Trinity, thou gettest for answer, God. For if the spirit of man, when it cleaves to God, is one spirit, as the apostle openly declares, “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit;”7 how much more is the equal Son, joined to the Father, together with Him one God! Hear another testimony. You know how many believed, when they sold all they had and laid it at the apostles’ feet, that it might be distributed to each according to his need; and what saith the Scripture of that gathering of the saints? “They had one soul and one heart in the Lord.”8 If charity made one soul of so many souls, and one heart of so many hearts, how great must be the charity between the Father and the Son! Surely it must be greater than that between those men who had one heart. If, then, the heart of many brethren was one by charity, if the soul of many brethren was one by charity, wouldst thou say that God the Father and God the Son are two? If they are two Gods, there is not the highest charity between them. For if charity is here so great as to make thy soul and thy friend’s soul one soul, how can it be then that the Father and the Son is not one God? Far be unfeigned faith from this thought. In short, how excellent that charity is, understand hence: the souls of many men are many, and if they love one another, it is one soul; still, in the case of men, they may be called many souls, because the union is not so strong. But there it is right for thee to say one God; two or three Gods it is not right for thee to say. From this, the supreme and surpassing excellency of charity is shown thee to be such, that a greater cannot be.
10. “For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God.” This, of course, he said of Christ, to distinguish himself from Christ. What then? Did not God send Jn himself? Did he not say himself, “I am sent before Him”? and, “He that sent me to baptize with water”? And is it not of Jn that it is said, “Behold, I send my messenger before Thee, and he shall prepare Thy way”?9 Does he not himself speak the words of God, he of whom it is said that he is more than a prophet? Then, if God sent him too, and he speaks the words of God, how do we understand him to have distinctly said of Christ, “He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God”? But see what he adds: “For God giveth not the Spirit by measure.” What is this, “For God giveth not the Spirit by measure”? We find that God does give the Spirit by measure. Hear the apostle when he says, “According to the measure of the gift of Christ.”10 To men He gives by measure, to the only Son He gives not by measure. How does He give to men by measure? “To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom: to another the word of wisdom according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another kinds of tongues; to another the gift of healing. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gift of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?”11 This man has one gift, that man another; and what that man has, this has not: there is a measure, a certain division of gifts. To men, therefore, it is given by measure, and concord among them makes one body. As the hand receives one kind of gift to work, the eye another to see, the ear another to hear, the foot another to walk; nevertheless the soul that does all is one, in the hand to work, in the foot to walk, in the ear to hear, in the eye to see; so are also the gifts of believers diverse, distributed to them as to members, to each according to his proper measure. But Christ, who gives, receives not by measure.
11. Now hear further what follows: because He had said of the Son, “For God giveth not the Spirit by measure: the Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand,” He added, “hath given all things into His hands,” that thou mightest know also here with what distinction it is said, “The Father loveth the Son.” And why? Does the Father not love John? And yet He has not given all things into his hand. Does the Father not love Paul? And yet He has not given all things into his hand. “The Father loveth the Son:” but as father loveth, not as master loveth a servant; as the Only Son, not as an adopted son. And so “hath given all things into His hand.” What means “all things”? That the Son should be such as the Father is. To equality with Himself He begat Him in whom it was no robbery to be in the form of God, equal to God. “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand.” Therefore, having deigned to send us the Son, let us not imagine that it is something less than the Father that is sent to us. The Father, in sending the Son, sent His other self.
12. But the disciples, still thinking that the Father is something greater than the Son, seeing only the flesh, and not understanding His divinity, said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father and it sufficeth us.” As much as to say, “We know Thee already, and bless Thee that we know Thee: for we thank Thee that Thou hast shown Thyself to us. But as yet we know not the Father: therefore our heart is inflamed, and occupied with a certain holy longing of seeing Thy Father who sent Thee. Show us Him, and we shall desire nothing more of Thee: for it sufficeth us when He has been shown, than whom none can be greater.” A good longing, a good desire; but small intelligence. Now the Lord Jesus Himself, regarding them as small men seeking great things, and Himself great among the small, and yet small among the small, says to Philip, one of the disciples, who had said this: “Am I so long time with you, and ye have not known me, Philip?” Here Philip might have answered, Thee we have known, but did we say to Thee, Show us Thyself? We have known Thee, but it is the Father we seek to know. He immediately adds, “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father also.”12 If, then, One equal with the Father has been sent, let us not estimate Him from the weakness of the flesh, but think of the majesty clothed in flesh, but not weighed down by the flesh. For, remaining God with the Father, He was made man among men, that, through Him who was made man, thou mightest become such as to receive God. For man could not receive God. Man could see man; God he could not apprehend. Why could he not apprehend God? Because he had not the eye of the heart, by which to apprehend Him. There was something within disordered, something without sound: man had the eyes of the body sound, but the eyes of the heart sick. He was made man to the eye of the body; so that, believing on Him who could be seen in bodily form, thou mightst be healed for seeing Him whom thou wast not able to see spiritually. “Am I so long time with you, and ye know me not, Philip? He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father also.” Why did they not see Him? Lo, they did see Him, and yet saw not the Father: they saw the flesh, but the majesty was concealed. What the disciples who loved Him saw, saw also the Jews who crucified Him. Inwardly, then, was He all; and in such manner inwardly in the flesh, that He remained with the Father when He came to the flesh.
13. Carnal thought does not apprehend what I say: let it defer understanding, and begin by faith; let it hear what follows: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” He has not said, The wrath of God cometh to him; but, “The wrath of God abideth on him.” All that are born mortals have the wrath of God with them. What wrath of God? That wrath which Adam first received. For if the first man sinned, and heard the sentence, “Thou shalt die the death,” he became mortal, and we began to be born mortal; and we have been born with the wrath of God. From this stock came the Son, not having sin, and He was clothed with flesh and mortality. If He partook with us of the wrath of God, are we slow to partake with Him the grace of God? He, then, that will not believe the Son, on the same “the wrath of God abideth.” What wrath of God? That of which the apostle says, “We also were by nature the children of wrath, even as the rest.”13 All are therefore children of wrath, because coming of the curse of death. Believe on Christ, for thee made mortal, that thou mayest receive Him, the immortal; and when thou shalt have received His immortality, thou shalt no longer be mortal. He lived, thou wast dead; He died that thou shouldst live. He has brought us the grace of God, and has taken away the wrath of God. God has conquered death, lest death should conquer man.
1 (Jn 8,44,
2 (Rm 1,19-22).
3 (1Co 4,7,
4 (1Co 1,31).
5 (Ps 18,28,
6 (1Co 15,10,
7 (Ga 2,20).
8 (1Co 6,17,
9 (Ac 4,32).
10 (Ml 3,1,
11 (Ep 4,7,
12 (1Co 12,8-30.
13 (Jn 14,8-9).
15 (Jn 4,1-42.
1. It is nothing new to your ears, beloved, that the Evangelist John, like an eagle, takes a loftier flight, and soars above the dark mist of earth, to gaze with steadier eyes upon the light of truth. From his Gospel much has already been treated of and discussed through our ministry, with the Lord’s help; and the passage which has been read to-day follows in due order. What I am about to say, with the Lord’s permission, many of you will hear in such wise that you will be reviewing what you know, rather than learning what you know not. Yet, for all that, your attention ought not to be slack, because it is not an acquiring, but a reviewing, of knowledge. This has been read, and we have in our hands to discourse upon this passage-that which the Lord Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. The things spoken there are great mysteries, and the similitudes of great things; feeding the hungry, and refreshing the weary soul.
2. Now when the Lord knew this, “when He had heard that the Pharisees had learned that He was making more disciples than John, and baptized more (though Jesus baptized not, but His disciples), He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee.” We must not discourse of this too long, lest, by dwelling on what is manifest, we shall lack the time to investigate and lay open what is obscure. Certainly, if the Lord saw that the fact of their coming to know that He made more disciples, and baptized more, would so avail to salvation to the Pharisees in following Him, as to become themselves His disciples, and to desire to be baptized by Him; rather would He not have left Judea, but would have remained there for their sakes. But because He knew their knowledge of the fact, and at the same time knew their envy, and that they learned this, not to follow, but to persecute him, He departed thence. He could, indeed, even when present, cause that He should not be taken of them, if He would not; He had it in His power not to be put to death, if He would not, since He had the power not to be born, if He would not. But because, in everything that He did as man, He was showing an example to them who were to believe on Him (that any one servant of God sinneth not if he retire into another place, when he sees, it may be, the rage of his persecutors, or of them that seek to bring his soul into evil; but if a servant of God did this he might appear to commit sin, had not the Lord led the way in doing it), that good Master did this to teach us, not because He feared it.
3. It may perhaps surprise you why it is said, that “Jesus baptized more than John;” and after this was said, it is subjoined, “although Jesus baptized not, but His disciples.” What then? Was the statement made false, and then corrected by this addition? Or, are both true, viz. that Jesus both did and also did not baptize? He did in fact baptize, because it was He that cleansed; and He did not baptize, because it was not He that touched. The disciples supplied the ministry of the body; He afforded the aid of His majesty. Now, when could He cease from baptizing, so long as He ceased not from cleansing? Of Him it is said by the same John, in the person of the Baptist, who saith, “This is He that baptizeth.” Jesus, therefore, is still baptizing; and so long as we continue to be baptized, Jesus baptizeth. Let a man come without fear to the minister below; for he has a Master above.
4. But it may be one saith, Christ does indeed baptize, but in spirit, not in body. As if, indeed, it were by the gift of another than He that any is imbued even with the sacrament of corporal and visible baptism. Wouldest thou know that it is He that baptizeth, not only with the Spirit, but also with water? Hear the apostle: “Even as Christ,” saith he, “loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, purifying it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.”1 Purifying it. How? “With the washing of water by the Word.” What is the baptism of Christ? The washing of water by the Word. Take away the water, it is no baptism; take away the Word, it is no baptism.
5. This much, then, on the preliminary circumstances, by occasion of which He came to a conversation with that woman, let us look at the matters that remain; matters full of mysteries and pregnant with sacraments. “And He must needs pass through Samaria. He cometh then to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground which Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s fountain was there.” It was a well; but every well is a fountain, yet not every fountain a well. For where the water flows from the earth, and offers itself for use to them that draw it, it is called a fountain; but if accessible, and on the surface, it is called only a fountain: if, however, it be deep and far down, it is called a well, but in such wise as not to lose the name of fountain.
6. “Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well. It was about the sixth hour.” Now begin the mysteries. For it is not without a purpose that Jesus is weary; not indeed without a purpose that the strength of God is weary; not without a purpose that He is weary, by whom the wearied are refreshed; not without a purpose is He weary, by whose absence we are wearied, by whose presence we are strengthened. Nevertheless Jesus is weary, and weary with His journey; and He sits down, and that, too, near a well; and it is at the sixth hour that, being wearied, He sits down. All these things hint something, are intended to intimate something, they make us eager, and encourage us to knock. May Himself open to us and to you; He who has deigned to exhort us, so as to say, “Knock, and it shall be opened to you.” It was for thee that Jesus was wearied with His journey. We find Jesus to be strength, and we find Jesus to be weak: we find a strong and a weak Jesus: strong, because “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: the same was in the beginning with God.” Wouldest thou see how this Son of God is strong? “All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made:” and without labor, too, were they made. Then what can be stronger than He, by whom all things were made without labor? Wouldest thou know Him weak? “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The strength of Christ created thee, the weakness of Christ created thee anew. The strength of Christ caused that to be which was not: the weakness of Christ caused that what was should not perish. He fashioned us by His strength, He sought us by His weakness.
7. As weak, then, He nourishes the weak, as a hen her chickens; for He likened Himself to a hen: “How often,” He saith to Jerusalem, “would I have gathered thy children under my wings, as a hen her chickens; but thou wouldest not!”2 And you see, brethren, how a hen becomes weak with her chickens. No other bird, when it is a mother, is recognized at once to be so. We see all kinds of sparrows building their nests before our eyes; we see swallows, storks, doves, every day building their nests; but we do not know them to be parents, except when we see them on their nests. But the hen is so enfeebled over her brood, that even if the chickens are not following her, if thou see not the young ones, yet thou knowest her at once to be a mother. With her wings drooping, her feathers ruffled, her note hoarse, in all her limbs she becomes so sunken and abject, that, as I have said, even though thou seest not her young, yet thou perceivest her to be a mother. In such manner was Jesus weak, wearied with His journey. His journey is the flesh assumed for us. For how can He, who is present everywhere, have a journey, He who is nowhere absent? Whither does He go, or whence, but that He could not come to us, except He had assumed the form of visible flesh? Therefore, as He deigned to come to us in such manner, that He appeared in the form of a servant by the flesh assumed, that same assumption of flesh is His journey. Thus, “wearied with His journey,” what else is it but wearied in the flesh? Jesus was weak in the flesh: but do not thou become weak; but in His weakness be strong, because what is “the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
8. Under this image of things, Adam, who was the figure of Him that was to be, afforded us a great indication of this mystery; rather, God afforded it in him. For he was deemed worthy to receive a wife while he slept, and that wife was made for him of his own rib: since from Christ, sleeping on the cross, was the Church to come,-from His side, namely, as He slept; for it was from His side, pierced with the spear, as He hung on the cross, that the sacraments of the Church flowed forth. But why have I chosen to say this, brethren? Because it is the weakness of Christ that makes us strong. A remarkable figure of this went before in the case of Adam. God could have taken flesh from the man to make of it a woman, and it seems that this might have been the more suitable. For it was the weaker sex that was being made, and weakness ought to have been made of flesh rather than of bone; for the bones are the stronger parts it the flesh. He took not flesh to make of it a woman; but took a bone, and of the bone was the woman shaped, and flesh was filled in into the place of the bone. He could have restored bone for bone; He could have taken, not a rib, but flesh, for the making of the woman. What, then, did this signify? Woman was made, as it were, strong, from the rib; Adam was made, as it were, weak, from the flesh. It is Christ and the Church; His weakness is our strength.
9. But why at the sixth hour? Because at the sixth age of the world. In the Gospel, count up as an hour each, the first age from Adam to Noah; the second, from Noah to Abraham; the third, from Abraham to David; the fourth, from David to the removing to Babylon; the fifth, from the removing to Babylon to the baptism of John: thence is the sixth being enacted. Why dost thou marvel? Jesus came, and, by humbling Himself, came to a well. He came wearied, because He carried weak flesh. At the sixth hour, because in the sixth age of the world. To a well, because to the depth of this our habitation. For which reason it is said in the psalm: “From the depth have I cried unto Thee, O Lord.”3 He sat, as I said, because He was humbled.
10. “And there came a woman.” Figure of the Church not yet justified, but now about to be justified: for this is the subject of the discourse. She comes ignorant, she finds Him, and there is a dealing with her. Let us see what, and wherefore. “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water.” The Samaritans did not belong to the nation of the Jews: they were foreigners, though they inhabited neighboring lands. It would take a long time to relate the origin of the Samaritans; that we may not be detained by long discourse of this, and leave necessary matters unsaid, suffice to say, then, that we regard the Samaritans as aliens. And, lest you should think that I have said this with more boldness than truth, hear the Lord Jesus Himself, what He said of that Samaritan, one of the ten lepers whom He had cleansed, who alone returned to give thanks: “Were there not ten cleansed? And where are the nine? There was not another to give glory to God, save this stranger.”4 It is pertinent to the image of the reality, that this woman, who bore the type of the Church, comes of strangers: for the Church was to come of the Gentiles, an alien from the race of the Jews. In that woman, then, let us hear ourselves, and in her acknowledge ourselves, and in her give thanks to God for ourselves. For she was the figure, not the reality; for she both first showed forth the figure and became the reality. For she believed on Him who, of her, set the figure before us. “She cometh, then, to draw water.” Had simply come to draw water, as people are wont to do, be they men or women.
11. “Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. For His disciples were gone away into the city to buy meat. Then saith the Samaritan woman unto Him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a Samaritan woman? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” You see that they were aliens: indeed, the Jews would not use their vessels. And as the woman brought with her a vessel with which to draw the water, it made her wonder that a Jew sought drink of her,-a thing which the Jews were not accustomed to do. But He who was asking drink was thirsting for the faith of the woman herself.
12. At length, hear who it is that asketh drink: “Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest, it may be, have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.” He asks to drink, and promises to give drink. He longs as one about to receive; He abounds as one about to satisfy. “If thou knewest,” saith He, “the gift of God.” The gift of God is the Holy Spirit. But as yet He speaks to the woman guardedly, and enters into her heart by degrees. It may be He is now teaching her. For what can be sweeter and kinder than that exhortation? “If thou knewest the gift of God,” etc.: thus far He keeps her in suspense. That is commonly called living water which issues from a spring: that which is collected from rain in pools and cisterns is not called living water. And it may have flowed from a spring; yet if it should stand collected in some place, not admitting to it that from which it flowed, but, with the course interrupted, separated, as it were, from the channel of the fountain, it is not called “living water:” but that is called living water which is taken as it flows. Such water there was in that fountain. Why, then, did He promise to give that which He was asking?
13. The woman, however, being in suspense, saith to Him, “Lord, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.” See how she understood the living water, simply the water which was in that fountain. “Thou wouldst give me living water, and I carry that with which to draw, and thou dost not. The living water is here; how art thou to give it me?” Understanding another thing, and taking it carnally, she does in a manner knock, that the Master may open up that which is closed. She was knocking in ignorance, not with earnest purpose; she is still an object of pity, not yet of instruction.
14. The Lord speaks somewhat more clearly of that living water. Now the woman had said, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, his children, and his cattle?” Thou canst not give me of the living water of this well, because thou hast nothing to draw with: perhaps thou promisest another fountain? Canst thou be better than our father, who dug this well, and used it himself, and his? Let the Lord, then, declare what He called living water. “Jesus answered and said unto her, Every one that drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but he that drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall not thirst forever; but the water which I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water, springing up into everlasting life.” The Lord has spoken more openly: “It shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into everlasting life. He that drinketh of this water shall not thirst forever.” What more evident than that it was not visible, but invisible water, that He was promising? What more evident than that He was speaking, not in a carnal, but in a spiritual sense?
15. Still, however, the woman has her mind on the flesh: she is delighted with the thought of thirsting no more, and fancies that this was promised to her by the Lord after a carnal sense; which it will be indeed, but in the resurrection of the dead. She desired this now. God had indeed granted once to His servant Elias, that during forty days he neither hungered nor thirsted. Could not He give this always, seeing He had power to give it during forty days? She, however, sighed for it, desiring to have no want, no toil. To be always coming to that fountain, to be burdened with a weight with which to supply her want, and, when that which she had drawn is spent, to be obliged to return again: this was a daily toil to her; because that want of hers was to be relieved, not extinguished. Such a gift as Jesus promised delighted her; she asks Him to give her living water.
16. Nevertheless, let us not overlook the fact that it is something spiritual that the Lord was promising. What means, “Whoso shall drink of this water shall thirst again?” It is true as to this water; it is true as to what the water signified. Since the water in the well is the pleasure of the world in its dark depth: from this men draw it with the vessel of lusts. Stooping forward, they let down the lust to reach the pleasure fetched from the depth of the well, and enjoy the pleasure and the preceding lust let down to fetch it. For he who has not despatched his lust in advance cannot get to the pleasure. Consider lust, then, as the vessel; and pleasure as the water from the depth of the well: when one has got at the pleasure of this world, it is meat to him, it is drink, it is a bath, a show, an amour; can it be that he will not thirst again? Therefore, “Whoso shall drink of this water,” saith He, “will thirst again;” but if he shall receive water of me, “he shall never thirst.” “We shall be satisfied,” it saith, “with the good things of Thy house.”5 Of what water, then, is He to give, but of that of which it is said, “With Thee is the fountain of life”? For how shall they thirst, who “shall be drunk with the fatness of Thy house”?6
17. What He was promising them was a certain feeding and abundant fullness of the Holy Spirit: but the woman did not yet understand; and not understanding, how did she answer? “The woman saith unto Him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.” Want forced her to labor, and her weakness was pleading against the toil. Would that she heard the invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you!”7 This is, in fact, what Jesus was saying to her, that she might no longer labor: but she did not yet understand.
18. At length, wishing her to understand, “Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.” What means this, “Call thy husband”? Was it through her husband that He wished to give her that water? Or, because she did not understand, did He wish to teach her through her husband? Perhaps it was as the apostle says concerning women, “If they wish to learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home.” But this the apostle says of that where there is no Jesus present to teach. It is said, in short, to women whom the apostle was forbidding to speak in the Church.8 But when the Lord Himself was at hand, and in person speaking to her, what need was there that He should speak to her by her husband? Was it through her husband that he spoke to Mary, while sitting at His feet and receiving His word; while Martha, wholly occupied with much serving, murmured at the happiness of her sister?9 Wherefore, my brethren, let us hear and understand what it is that the Lord says to the woman, “Call thy husband.” For it may be that He is saying also to our soul, “Call thy husband.” Let us inquire also concerning the soul’s husband. Why, is not Jesus Himself already the soul’s real husband? Let the understanding be present, since what we are about to say can hardly be apprehended but by attentive hearers: therefore let the understanding be present to apprehend, and perhaps that same understanding will be found to be the husband of the soul.
19. Now Jesus, seeing that the woman did not understand, and willing her to understand, says to her, “Call thy husband.” “For the reason why thou knowest not what I say is, because thy understanding is not present: I am speaking after the Spirit, and thou art hearing after the flesh. The things which I speak relate neither to the pleasure of the ears, nor to the eyes, nor to the smell, nor to the taste, nor to the touch; by the mind alone are they received, by the understanding alone are they drawn up: that understanding is not with thee, how canst thou apprehend what I am saying? ‘Call thy husband,’ bring thy understanding forward. What is it for thee to have a soul? It is not much, for a beast has a soul. Wherein art thou better than the beast? In having understanding, which the beast has not.” Then what is “Call thy husband”? “Thou dost not apprehend me, thou dost not understand me: I am speaking to thee of the gift of God, and thy thought is of the flesh; thou wishest not to thirst in a carnal sense, I am addressing myself to the spirit: thy understanding is absent. ‘Call thy husband.’ Be not as the horse and mule, which have no understanding.“ Therefore, my brethren, to have a soul, and not to have understanding, that is, not to use it, not to live according to it, is a beast’s life. For we have somewhat in common with the beasts, that by which we live in the flesh, but it must be ruled by the understanding. For the motions of the soul, which moves after the flesh, and longs to run unrestrainedly loose after carnal delights, are ruled over by the understanding. Which is to be called the husband?-that which rules, or that which is ruled? Without doubt, when the life is well ordered the understanding rules the soul, for itself belongs to the soul. For the understanding is not something other than the soul, but a thing of the soul: as the eye is not something other than the flesh, but a thing of the flesh. But whilst the eye is a thing of the flesh, yet it alone enjoys the light; and the other fleshy members may be steeped in light, but they cannot feel the light: the eye alone is both bathed in it, and enjoys it. Thus in our soul there is a something called the understanding. This something of the soul, which is called understanding and mind, is enlightened by the higher light. Now that higher light, by which the human mind is enlightened, is God; for “that was the true light which enlighteneth every man coming into this world.” Such a light was Christ, such a light was speaking with the woman yet she was not present with the understanding, to have it enlightened with that light; not merely to have it shed upon it, but to enjoy it. Therefore the Lord said, “Call thy husband,” as if He were to say, I wish to enlighten, and yet there is not here whom I may enlighten: bring hither the understanding through which thou mayest be taught, by which thou mayest be ruled. Thus, put the soul without the understanding for the woman; and having the understanding as having the husband. But this husband does not rule the wife well, except when he is ruled by a higher. “For the head of the woman is the man, but the head of the man is Christ.”10 The head of the man was talking with the woman, and the man was not present. And so the Lord, as if He said, Bring hither thy head, that he may receive his head, says, “Call thy husband, and come hither;” that is, Be here, be present: for thou art as absent, while thou understandest not the voice of the Truth here present; be thou present here, but not alone; be thou here with thy husband.
20. And, the husband being not yet called, still she does not understand, still she minds the flesh; for the man is absent: “I have not,” saith she, “a husband.” And the Lord proceeds and utters mysteries. Thou mayest understand that woman really to have had at that time no husband; she was living with some man, not a lawful husband, rather a paramour than a husband. And the Lord said to her, “Thou hast well said, I have not a husband.” How then didst Thou say, “Call thy husband”? Now hear how the Lord knew well that she had not a husband “He says to her,” etc. In case the woman might suppose that the Lord had said, “Thou hast well said, I have not a husband,” just because He had learned this fact of her, and not because he knew it by His own divinity, hear something which thou hast not said: “For thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband; this thou hast said truly.”
21. Once more He urges us to investigate the matter somewhat more exactly concerning these five husbands. Many have in fact understood, not indeed absurdly, nor so far improbably, the five husbands of this woman to mean the five books of Moses. For the Samaritans’ made use of these books, and were under the same law: for it was from it they had circumcision. But since we are hemmed in by what follows, “And he whom thou now hast is not thy husband,” it appears to me that we can more easily take the five senses of the body to be the five former husbands of the soul. For when one is born, before he can make use of the mind and reason, he is ruled only by the senses of the flesh. In a little child, the soul seeks for or shuns what is heard, and seen, and smells, and tastes, and is perceived by the touch. It seeks for whatever soothes, and shuns whatever offends, those five senses. At first, the soul lives according to these five senses, as five husbands; because it is ruled by them. But why are they called husbands? Because they are lawful and right: made indeed by God, and are the gifts of God to the soul. The soul is still weak while ruled by these five husbands, and living under these five husbands; but when she comes to years of exercising reason, if she is taken in hand by the noble discipline and teaching of wisdom, these five men are succeeded in their rule by no other than the true and lawful husband, and one better than they, who both rules better and rules for eternity, who cultivates and instructs her for eternity. For the five senses rule us, not for eternity, but for those temporal things that are to be sought or shunned. But when the understanding, imbued by wisdom, begins to rule the soul, it knows now not only how to avoid a pit, and to walk on even ground-a thing which the eyes show to the soul even in its weakness; nor merely to be charmed with musical voices, and to repel harsh sounds; nor to delight in agreeable scents, and to refuse offensive smells; nor to be captivated by sweetness, and displeased with bitterness; nor to be soothed with what is soft, and hurt with what is rough. For all these things are necessary to the soul in its weakness. Then what rule is made use of by that understanding? Not one to discern between black and white, but between just and unjust, between good and evil, between the profitable and the unprofitable, between chastity and impurity, that it may love the one and avoid the other; between charity and hatred, to be in the one, not to be in the other.
22. This husband had not yet succeeded to those five husbands in that woman. And where he does not succeed, error sways. For when the soul has begun to be capable of reason, it is ruled either by the wise mind or by error: but yet error does not rule but destroys. Wherefore, after these five senses was that woman still wandering, and error was tossing her to and fro. And this error was not a lawful husband, but a paramour: for that reason the Lord saith to her, “Thou hast well said, I have not a husband. For thou hast had five husbands.” The five senses of the flesh ruled thee at first; thou art come to the age of using reason, and yet thou art not come to wisdom, but art fallen into error. Therefore, after those five husbands, “this whom thou now hast is not thy husband.” And if not a husband, what was he but a paramour? And so, “Call,” not the paramour, but “thy husband,” that thou mayest receive me with the understanding, and not by error have some false notion of me. For the woman was still in error, as she was thinking of that water; whilst the Lord was now speaking of the Holy Ghost. Why was she erring, but because she had a paramour, not a husband? Put away, therefore, that paramour who corrupts thee, and “go, call thy husband.” Call, and come that thou mayest understand me.
23. “The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I see that thou art a prophet.” The husband begins to come, he is not yet fully come. She accounted the Lord a prophet, and a prophet indeed He was; for it was of Himself He said, that “a prophet is not without honor, save in his own country.”11 Again, of Him it was said to Moses, “A Prophet will I raise up to them of their brethren, like unto thee.”12 Like, namely, as to the form of the flesh, but not in the eminence of His majesty. Accordingly we find the Lord Jesus called a Prophet. Hence this woman is now not far wrong. “I see,” she saith, “that thou art a prophet.” She begins to call the husband, and to shut out the paramour; she begins to ask about a matter that is wont to disquiet her. For there was a contention between the Samaritans and the Jews, because the Jews worshipped God in the temple built by Solomon; but the Samaritans, being situated at a distance from it, did not worship there. For this reason the Jews, because they worshipped God in the temple, boasted themselves to be better than the Samaritans. “For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans:” because the latter said to them, How is it you boast and account yourselves to be better than we, just because you have a temple which we have not? Did our fathers, who were pleasing to God, worship in that temple? Was it not in this mountain where we are they worshipped? We then do better, say they, who pray to God in this mountain, where our fathers prayed. Both peoples contended in ignorance, because they had not the husband: they were inflated against each other, on the one side in behalf of the temple, on the other in behalf of the mountain.
24. What, however, does the Lord teach the woman now, as one whose husband has begun to be present? “The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me.” For the Church will come, as it is said in the Song of Songs, “will come, and will pass over from the beginning of faith.”13 She will come in order to pass through; and pass through she cannot, except from the beginning of faith. Rightly she now hears, the husband being present: “Woman, believe me.” For there is that in thee now which can believe, since thy husband is present. Thou hast begun to be present with the understanding when thou calledst me a prophet. Woman, believe me; for if ye believe not, ye will not understand.14 Therefore, “Woman, believe me, for the hour will come when ye shall neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we worship what we know; for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour will come.” When? “And now is.” Well, what hour? “When the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth,” not in this mountain, not in the temple, but in spirit and in truth. “For the Father seeketh such to worship Him.” Why does the Father seek such to worship Him, not on a mountain, not in the temple, but in spirit and in truth? “God is Spirit.” If God were body, it were right that He should be worshipped on a mountain, for a mountain is corporeal; it were right He should be worshipped in the temple, for a temple is corporeal. “God is Spirit; and they that worship Him, must worship in spirit and in truth.”
25. We have heard, and it is manifest; we had gone out of doors, and we are sent inward. Would I could find, thou didst say, some high and lonely mountain! For I think that, because God is on high, He hears me the rather from a high place. Because thou art on a mountain, dost thou imagine thyself near to God. and that He will quickly hear thee, as if calling to Him from the nearest place? He dwells on high, but regards the lowly. “The Lord is near.” To whom? To the high, perhaps? “To them who are contrite of heart.”15 ’Tis a wonderful thing: He dwelleth on high, and yet is near to the lowly; “He hath regard to lowly things, but lofty things He knoweth from afar;”16 He seeth the proud afar off, and He is the less near to them the higher they appear to themselves to be. Didst thou seek a mountain, then? Come down, that thou mayest come near Him. But wouldest thou ascend? Ascend, but do not seek a mountain. “The ascents,” it saith, “are in his heart, in the valley of weeping.”17 The valley is humility. Therefore do all within. Even if perhaps thou seekest some lofty place, some holy place, make thyself a temple for God within time. “For the temple of God is holy, which temple are ye.”18 Wouldest thou pray in a temple? Pray in thyself. But be thou first a temple of God, for He in His temple heareth him that prays.
26. “The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. We worship that which we know: ye worship ye know not what; for salvation is of the Jews.” A great thing has He attributed to the Jews; but do not understand Him to mean those spurious Jews. Understand that wall to which another is joined, that they may be joined together, resting on the corner-stone, which is Christ. For there is one wall from the Jews, another from the Gentiles; these walls are far apart, only until they are united in the Corner. Now the aliens were strangers and foreigners from the covenants of God.19 According to this, it is said, “We worship what we know.” It is said, indeed, in the person of the Jews, but not of all Jews, not of reprobate Jews, but of such as were the apostles, as were the prophets, as were all those saints who sold all their goods, and laid the price of their goods at the apostles’ feet. “For God hath not rejected His people which He foreknew.”20
27. The woman heard this, and proceeded. She had already called Him a prophet; she observes that He with whom she was speaking uttered such things as still more pertained to the prophet; and what answer did she make? See: “The woman saith unto Him, I know that Messias will come, who is called Christ: when He then is come, He will show us all things.” What is this? Just now she saith, The Jews are contending for the temple, and we for this mountain: when He has come, He will despise the mountain, and overthrow the temple; He will teach us all things, that we may know how to worship in spirit and in truth. She knew who could teach her, but she did not yet know Him that was now teaching her. But now she was worthy to receive the manifestation of Him. Now Messias is Anointed: Anointed, in Greek, is Christ; in Hebrew, Messias; whence also, in Punic, Messe means Anoint. For the Hebrew, Punic and Syriac are cognate and neighboring languages.
28. Then, “The woman saith unto Him, I know that Messias will come, who is called Christ: when He then is come, He will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak with thee am He.” She called her husband; he is made the head of the woman, and Christ is made the head of the man. Now is the woman constituted in faith, and ruled, as about to live rightly. After she heard this, “I that speak with thee am He,” what further could she say, when the Lord Jesus willed to manifest Himself to the woman, to whom He had said, “Believe me?”
29. “And immediately came His disciples, and marvelled that He talked with the woman.” That He was seeking her that was lost, He who came to seek that which was lost: they marvelled at this. They marvelled at a good thing, they were not suspecting an evil thing. “Yet no man said, What seekest Thou, or why talkest Thou with her?”
30. “The woman then left her water-pot.” Having heard, “I that speak with thee am He,” and having received Christ the Lord into her heart, what could she do but now leave her water-pot, and run to preach the gospel? She cast out lust, and hastened to proclaim the truth. Let them who would preach the gospel learn; let them throw away their water-pot at the well. You remember what I said before of the water-pot: it was a vessel with which the water was drawn, called hydria, from its Greek name, because water is hydor in Greek; just as if it were called aquarium, from the Latin. She threw away her water-pot then, which was no longer of use, but a burden to her, such was her avidity to be satisfied with that water. Throwing her burden away, to make known Christ, “she ran to the city, and says to those men. Come, and see a man that told me all things that ever I did.” Step by step, lest those men should get angry and indignant, and should persecute her. “Is this Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came to Him.”
31. “And in the meanwhile His disciples besought Him, saying, Master, eat.” For they had gone to buy meat, and had returned. “But He said, I have meat to eat which ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him aught to eat?” What wonder if that woman did not understand about the water? See; the disciples do not yet understand the meat. But He heard their thoughts, and now as a master instructs them, not in a round-about way, as He did the woman while He still sought her husband, but openly at once: “My meat,” saith He, “is to do the will of Him that sent me.” Therefore, in the case of that woman, it was even His drink to do the will of Him that sent Him. That was the reason why He said, “I thirst, give me to drink;” namely, to work faith in her, and to drink of her faith, and to transplant her into His own body, for His body is the Church. Therefore He saith,” My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me.”
32. “Say ye not, that there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?” He was aglow for the work, and was arranging to send forth laborers. You count four months to the harvest; I show you another harvest, white and ready. Behold, I say unto you, “Lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are already white for the harvest.” Therefore He is going to send forth the reapers. “For in this is the saying true, that one reapeth, another soweth: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. I have sent you to reap that on which ye have not labored: others have labored, and ye are entered into their labor.” What then? He sent reapers; sent He not the sowers? Whither the reapers? Where others labored already. For where labor had already been bestowed, surely there had been sowing; and what had been sown had now become ripe, and required the sickle and the threshing. Whither, then, were the reapers to be sent? Where the prophets had already preached before; for they were the sowers. For had they not been the sowers, whence had this come to the woman, “I know that Messias will come”? That woman was now ripened fruit, and the harvest fields were white, and sought the sickle. “I sent you,” then. Whither? “To reap what ye have not sown: others sowed, and ye are entered into their labors.” Who labored? Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Read their labors; in all their labors there is a prophecy of Christ, and for that reason they were sowers. Moses, and all the other patriarchs, and all the prophets, how much they suffered in that cold season when they sowed! Therefore was the harvest now ready in Judea. Justly was the corn there said to be as it were ripe, when so many thousands of men brought the price of their goods, and, laying them at the apostles’ feet, having eased their shoulders of this worldly baggage, began to follow the Lord Christ. Verily the harvest was ripe. What was made of it? Of that harvest a few grains were thrown out, and sowed the whole world; and another harvest is rising which is to be reaped in the end of the world. Of that harvest it is said, “They that sow in tears shall reap with joy.”21 But to that harvest not apostles, but angels, shall be sent forth. “The reapers,” saith He, “are the angels.”22 That harvest, then, is growing among tares, and is awaiting to be purged in the end of the world. But that harvest to which the disciples were sent first, where the prophets labored, was already ripe. But yet, brethren, observe what was said: “may rejoice together, both he that soweth and he that reapeth.” They had disSimilar labors in time, but the rejoicing they shall enjoy alike equally; they shall receive for their wages together eternal life.
33. “And many Samaritans of that city believed on Him, because of the saying of the woman, who testified, He told me all that ever I did. And when the Samaritans came to Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them; and He tarried there two days. And many more believed because of His word; and said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy words; for we have heard Him ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.” This also must be slightly noticed, for the lesson is come to an end. The woman first announced Him, and the Samaritans believed her testimony; and they besought Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days, and many more believed. And when they had believed, they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of thy word; but we are come to know Him ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world:” first by report, then by His presence. So it is to-day with them that are without, and are not yet Christians. Christ is made known to them by Christian friends; and just upon the report of that woman, that is, the Church, they come to Christ, they believe through this report. He stays with them two days, that is, gives them two precepts of charity; and many more believe, and more firmly believe, on Him, because He is in truth the Saviour of the world).
1 (Ep 5,25-27).
2 (Mt 23,37,
3 (Ps 130,1,
4 (Lc 17,17).
5 (Ps 65,4,
6 (Ps 36,9-10.
7 (Mt 11,28,
8 (1Co 14,34,
9 (Lc 10,40).
10 (1Co 11,3).
11 (Lc 4,24,
12 (Dt 18,18).
13 (Ct 4,8, LXX.
14 (Is 7,9, LXX).
15 (Ps 34,18,
16 (Ps 138,6.
17 (Ps 84,6,
18 (1Co 3,17,
19 (Ep 2,11-22.
20 (Rm 11,2).
21 (Ps 126,5,
22 (Mt 13,39,
Augustin on John 13